When I was an intern at a leading national newspaper in Vienna, Austria, a white-haired editor challenged me and a couple of other aspiring reporters with a question: What, he asked, is the number one trait a journalist must possess?
A talent for storytelling and writing, one of us suggested.
Integrity, another one said.
True, we heard in response, but there is something else.
I wish I could tell you that I was the one with the correct answer, but no. It was the young woman two chairs over: Curiosity.
My own inquisitiveness has taken me far. I’ve lived in three countries — Austria, the Czech Republic and the United States — and traveled in Europe, the Americas and the Middle East. I worked for eight years as an on-staff reporter and editor at Die Presse (that's the daily in Austria where I interned, and, yes, they hired me) and now run a writing business in Los Angeles. As a journalist I’ve sent dispatches from parliamentary sessions, book fairs and bedroom communities. I've dug into hemophilia, head lice and estate planning, profiled authors, attorneys and bureaucrats. (Bureaucrats are hard to crack!)
And still I'm hungry for more. Still I am curious.
Who, what, when, where, how and why? More than paper and a pen those words are the basic tools of my trade, journalism. How I use them is different for every story, but let’s say I'm writing a personality profile. My goal is to go beyond the CV, to learn what makes that one individual tick. I'll do my research, read a lot, check in with sources close to the person. Then I'll ask my profilee (though usually in a more roundabout way): When and how did you find your path? Who is your guide, and where are you headed? Why do you do what you do? What do you long to achieve? Whom do you hope to inspire?
One question at a time, the story grows. Then I write it. Like this one.
is an Austrian born, bilingual journalist and content marketing writer who immigrated to Los Angeles in 1999. Here, she blogs about the art and craft of writing.
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